Tuesday, 28 May 2013

When Mrs. Banks met Lady Gaga

My Zonta friend Narelle sent me this yesterday.

Before you go "ha ha! someone made an olde worlde version of Lady Gaga", discover exactly what this parady is about by having a look at this ....

Mrs. Banks had more friends than just Mrs. Pankhurst! She also knew Alice Paul!

BTW: Check out the Alice Paul Institute and see all the qualifications the lady achieved. See how Alice spent her spare time when she wasn't in the slammer or the mental asylum on a hunger strike and being force fed. Alice is one gutsy dame who was part of changing the world!

Unlike Mrs. Pankhurst, Alice pursued peaceful and silent, but persistent, protest. You can check out her story if you track down this 2004 movie: Iron Jawed Angels

File:Iron Jawed Angels.jpg
I have to admit, this poster is missing all the fabulous tailoring for which Mrs. Banks was also famous

How about you, gentle reader, are you upholding and honouring the path these ladies cleared for you?

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A brighter, cleaner, Prime Time World at 50's Prime Time Cafe

Ahhh.... life in the 1950's. Everything was all floral dresses and 60 watt light globes over the sandwich making pull out lap board.

This is the Australia of ye olde worlde - before Miele, Thermomix and Highlander stoves.

Frankly, I'm glad its gone. I wonder what our grandchildren will think of our ceiling mounted rangehoods and built in micro steamers? Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a dishwasher fetish. Oh .... how my heart sings with joy about the time and energy saving little box splashing away in the corner.

But when you look at life in 1950s Australia, well .... you'd wish the 1950s were gone too. I mean how drab. How mundane. Betty and her mother live in a "handy kitchen" where the saucepans are conveniently located. WOW!

(oh and there's a piece of classic Aussie culture! go back and listen to the first minute. Everything good she says, she tempers: "it's shiny and new - now - the scratches will come". The sink is too low for her friend. New cooker!! well - the electricity is on so she "might as well use it". Crikey! I am sorry you have to go through the whole new kitchen bother. "Oh look we've won the lottery! I suppose I'm going to have trail down to the bank and open new accounts and go on some kind of luxury cruise now - sigh)

Yes she has baby poop olive green coloured cabinets, and a place for the salt. But where is the trailing plastic ivy and wax fruit baskets?? I demand textured wall paper and a solar system inspired wall clock!!

I demand a world where the table corner is trimmed to match the sink!

Fortunately there is a place in this modern world that understands the desire to visit that mythical version of the 1950s. A place that reaches back in time to those innocent days of Yore (can there be such a thing?). A place that transports one back to the magic that was Sunday night dinner at your Aunty's house.

"Kids!! It's time for dinner!! and set the table
It's the 50's Prime Time Cafe - where the Dick Van Dyke Show and Leave it to Beaver are FOREVER on TV.

The 50's PT Cafe harkens back to that imaginery time when laminex ruled and plasticky nickynacks are jammed onto every flat surface. The whole cafe is a series of "kitchenettes" where you come in for your home cooked meatloaf.

So my friend, Clare, and I came in when called, washed our hands, set the places, kept our elbows off the table and had a look at the menu.

(source: disneyfoodblog.com click to embiggen)

For first course, how could I go past deep fried cheese?

Herb and garlic cheese with warm raspberry sauce, crutons, apple and grapes
I think the last time I had a deep fried cheese was in the infamous Double Bay Steakhouse (geez - remember that?! in 1989). All of that fruit was needed to cut through the cheesy creamy smoothness, but for me, this was easy. A great dish - deserving of a spot right through to 1989.

My friend Clare needs a celiac diet and accommodating her requirements was too easy. First up she selected a gluten free item: the Wedge Salad

Iceberg, blue cheese dressing, bacon and chives
Wedging anything has several different connotations in Australia and so it is not something Aussies do to our lettuces. However Clare was very happy and this is a simple dish - you can easily imagine the taste.

Next up for main course:

The chef made a special gluten free version of the chicken pot pie. Neat! Apparently the filling was already gluten free - thickened purely with vegetables, milk and slow cooking. Instead of a pastry lid, they provided a rather sad piece of gluten free toasted bread.

This bowl was FULL of chicken. No skimping on the protein here. and carrots. Carrots must have been cheap at the markets that morning
(note: Orlando is a place feeding 55 million+ tourists every year. If you have dietary requirements they are easily accommodated. I have seen the most astonishingly limited people adequately catered for)

Once Clare and I had finished bitching about the travesty that is gluten free supposed "bread" (do not try this stuff); our attention turned to my main: The Sampler Plate.

Fried chicken, pot roast and meatloaf with all the "fixin's" : name potato mash with gravy, steamed veges and tomato sauce.
Each item in the sampler is available as a dish in its own right. The meatloaf was actually very good and the tangy sauce was a perfect match. As a lover of the deep fry, that chicken was great at first. I suppose the deep fried batter was great! But the actual chicken was a bit bland, and a bit dry. Still, that is why gravy exists. The pot roast was very moist and unexpectedly good - however the whole dish was HUGE and I got into trouble for not eating all my vegetables.

After all, you can't have dessert if you don't eat your vegetables. One of the kids at the next table scored his uneaten vegetables, buried under a pile of whipped cream with a cherry on top AS his dessert. Mom's tough love here.

However, instead of dessert, we ordered specialty drinks:

Clare enjoyed a "lemonade with wildberry foam" (foaming things was VERY in) and I had my favourite root beer float.

Who needs green beans with cream when you can have root beer? Oh and check out the boomerang patterned table top.
By this stage I was giving this meal 3 Mr Creasotes. I was STUFFED - imagine if we had done dessert? eek!

and I am going to give 2 spoonfuls of sugar - however - one of the spoonfuls is alloted because the restuarant is sweet!

Everyone stays in role, the restaurant is committed to the theme and completed fitted out to suit the era. Even the cute little TV's on every kitchen counter are showing old 1950's family TV shows. Your Aunts and Uncles treat you like family (and you'd better know what colour is the soap in the bathroom) and if you misbehave? Well - it's standing nose to the wall or perhaps a rendition of "I'm a little teapot" as penance.

Frankly, dessert was not worth it. A brownie with vanilla ice cream, cheesecake, apple crumble/crisp - it was if the 1950's had not yet discovered the joy of baking. Nigella's influence is yet to come.

But 50's Primetime Cafe - I'll be back. Like every family, eventually you have to have the get together and catch up on old times.

Arrgghh - they stole the solar system clock!
So dear reader, do you have a favourite childhood meal?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My first special offer ..... at the Morse Museum

I am so busy preparing for my Zonta District 24 Board meeting this weekend. However, I have been drawn out of that singular focal point by the discovery that the Zonta International Board is also meeting this weekend.

In Orlando .... at the Marriott!

How cool is that.

You no longer have to take my word, you'll soon have the entire ZI Board singing the praises of Orlando!

But there is one tourist tip for which I want the credit for the "exclusive" release.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park (where else?)
I can't do this place credit in a quick post. There will be more later - let's just dip in our toes first.

and when I say "dip in our toes" I mean : "Watch out! This place will blow your socks off!"

Whatever my love for Disney - this museum is the jewel in Orlando's crown. 

But Mrs. Banks - why do you say this? what is so good about this place?

This museum is small and still one of the most beautiful I have visited.

Louis Comfort Tiffany's 'Oyster Bay'
This museum houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Tiffany glass items, including magnificent window panels (as above), along with the famous lamps and jewellery, paintings, pottery and all the way down to humble glass buttons.

The Tiffany studios were innovative, creative and prolific. 

The studios reached their peak around the turn of the 20th century, when the American oil and business barons were booming. Tiffany received some of the most extraordinary and extravagant orders.  

It's a light ...in a ball ... with water lillies ... all that glass ... in perfect globe!
What made Tiffany unique was that he created a range of glass work techniques that allowed him to create these intricate and delicate designs, combined with the most intense response to passing light. Tiffany didn't paint the glass - he developed different dies, in a wide range of over 5000 colours, and coloured the glass.

Wisteria and Snowball Tree, 1904
He also made use of, and honed to professional standards, many different glass working techniques such as:
  • rippling for water;
  • paper thin layered shards to represent leaves on trees;
  • bubble mottling for abstract designs; and
  • drapery - literally folding and draping sheets of glass to look like fabric. Handy when making angels.
example of draping
The Museum tells the most interesting stories, some of which I will touch upon in future posts. These include
  • Tiffany's own life story and how he ran the factory; 
  • his beautiful home, Laurelton Hall which was practically constructed of Tiffany work and how it operated as a working design studio; 
  • stories behind many of the major pieces on display at the museum; and 
  • the amazing story of the development of the Morse Museum itself.
Reading lamp - wouldn't we all want one of these?

I don't want ruin your visit to the museum with spoilers. you deserve to have your experience first hand, just like I did.

I will instead share other elements, like my visit to the Museum's Christmas in the Park event - another amazing story, with a delightful Zonta - relevant twist!

Now here is the BEST NEWS:

When I last visited the Museum, I met with their Marketing Manager, and she agreed to host


but only for me and my friends!

Caveat: I can only take a maximum of 50 people per tour group. Are there 50 of you out there reading this??

He made his own pillars for his house. With carved daffodils. DAFFODIL COLUMNS PEOPLE!

Amazing hey?! See what special arrangements I make for my special Zonta friends!

So - are you in?? Do you want to come with me to Orlando and enjoy our special tour of this very special museum?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

OMG! It's a Jolly Birthday with Mrs. Banks!

Mrs. Banks is now 2 years old!
 After all these posts, I need some chocolately english goodness. (source: sugarsnapnyc.com)
I am as surprised as anyone that I have persisted with this for 2 years now. Who'd have thought I'd  unload that much drivel, AND maintain the delusion to last this long?

Were you around for this?

Mrs. Banks 1st Birthday Celebration
or even perhaps this?

Mrs. Banks launches on to teh interwebs!
Actually no-one was around that far back.

Annual Wrap-up Time

Since Mrs. Banks 1st birthday, the world "hits" map has changed.

Australia has closed the gap with the USA! Over the past 12 months, only 300 clicks divided the two countries.

Oh - my dear Polish reader - where have you gone?

AND when Aussies do come to the site, they read more pages and stay longer!  Way to go, my Aussie friends!

Let's look at the top post for the year.

After last year's stella run, the anti-Disney Princess post came out the winner again this year!
I like to think that people enjoy a unique piece of content, drawing on the obvious problematic feminist theme facing Disney lovers.

But I am not that delusional.

It is because the post makes so many links to a wide range of content from others, that are then led to my post AND the photo of the Disney princesses AND the word "princess" in the title. It's an uphill battle, my fellow Zontians.

Whilst traffic is still predominately driven by 'Disney' and 'Orlando' theme keywords, this year a Zonta themed post made it into the top ten. The post announcing the International Convention dates is at No. 6, and the fixed page giving details for Zonta International is No. 13 and the Amelia Earhart Fellowship post came in at No.14 after having a mini-viral moment on Facebook!

I like to think that more Zontians are visiting Mrs. Banks, and perhaps more people are searching for Zonta online. But what, exactly, do I know about how people are finding Mrs. Banks?

This graph is a blogger's dream!

That big blue 38% wedge is organic google searches, which means Mrs. Banks comes up in keyword searches.

No. 2 at green 19% is where people are going straight to Mrs. Banks - either from their favourites, an RSS feed or just typing it straight into their URL address box. Which must mean that some of you come here deliberately - on purpose!

Encouraging is that Facebook referrals - which are predominately to other Zontians - is now No. 4 after not being countable last year.  Awww .... you guys!! You know, that just encourages me to keep producing this festival of the craptastic!

And guess what - there is still more than another year to go before we are all together in Orlando. Yes - another year of this random, braindumping, impulsive warblings to go before I even think about stopping!

Thanks to the international crowd whose "likes" spirit me to continue: Penny from Australia, Lily from Chile, Pam from Florida, Anna in Italy, Ana in Argentina, Rana from Pakistan. Along with everyone in the Facebook groups who are clicking along with me.

Big shout out to my own District 24 Board who have invited me to speak about my blogging experiences at the Area Meetings this year.

Mrs. Banks even scored a comment on the blog this year from ZI President Lynn McKenzie - that was a real highlight!

How did the Wellington sale go this year, Lynn?

My aim stays true:

  • Integrate Zonta into the interwebs - have more people in more places find us; and
  • Have you come join us in Orlando for the Zonta International Convention 2014 (bookmark the new website?)
To expand these aims, this year I have noticed more Zontians more involved in social media outlets, and I like to imagine that I have made a positive contribution.

Finally, without fail, The Ken Man deserves a huge thank you - the perfect cups of tea keep coming.

my 2013 brew - thank you man
 So - what about you?  Of what are you proud from the past 12 months?